Monday, June 9, 2008

Former Australian leader heads Queen's birthday honours

SYDNEY (AFP) — Australia's former conservative leader John Howard was Monday awarded the country's highest honour in the Queen's birthday awards list, in recognition of his services to the nation.

Howard, who was one of eight people awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia, spent almost 12 years at The Lodge in Canberra before being dumped from office last November by Labor leader Kevin Rudd.

The 68-year-old who committed Australia to US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has seen some of his initiatives rolled back in retirement, with Rudd withdrawing combat troops from Iraq and dismantling labour law reforms.

But the citation noted Howard's contributions to economic and social policy reform and praised the former Liberal Party chief for "fostering and promoting Australia's interests internationally".

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